france travel from uk covid coronavirus restrictions red list

France will ease its domestic travel restrictions next month as the prime minister declared its “third wave” over, raising hopes the country could reopen to British visitors sooner than expected. Jean Castex said the third national lockdown would be wound down from May 3, with residents able to travel anywhere within France; outdoor areas of bars and restaurants will also be able to open from mid-May, he said.  The move opens the door to France’s addition to the UK’s ‘green’ list when international travel resumes for Britons from May 17, however, the nation’s average rate of new infections remains one of the highest in  Europe.

On March 11 France announced that travellers arriving from the UK would no longer need to have a “compelling reason” for entering the country, although the need to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test result taken no longer than 72 hours prior to departure will remain in place. However, while holidays may be legally permitted after May 17, travellers could still face restrictions, including a quarantine on return to the UK and testing, depending on whether France makes it onto the ‘green’ list. This is the current state of affairs, and while it could change in the coming months, any booking for travel, even in summer, comes with an element of risk.

Here’s everything we know so far. 

Am I allowed to travel to France?

Until at least May 17, only those with an essential reason to leave Britain may do so. The UK does not consider a holiday to be essential; only those travelling for work, or for other permitted reasons (such as a house purchase or a wedding; the list is surprisingly extensive) are allowed beyond our shores. If you are allowed to travel, you must still quarantine for 10 days when you return home (and take three tests; see below). 

Since January, within the EU all travel outside the bloc without a valid excuse has been banned to limit the spread of other Covid-19 variants. However, on March 11, the French foreign ministry announced the relaxation of the rules on travel to and from seven countries, including the UK. The French Government said that as the variant first detected in the UK is now widespread in France, the restrictions were no longer required. 

The ministry statement said: “After the introduction of motif imperieux (compelling reasons) for travel outside the European area, this regime is amended to take account of international epidemic developments and to add a number of emergency situations that constitute compelling reasons”

Do I need to take a test?

Yes. The Foreign Office website explains: “All travellers from the UK, including children aged 11 and above, will need to present a negative PCR Covid-19 test result, carried out less than 72 hours before departure. As of 24 March, HGV or van drivers arriving in France from the UK are no longer required to provide a negative Covid-19 test to enter France.

The latest information for HGV or van drivers is available here. You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.

A list of private providers of coronavirus testing is available here.” Furthermore, you will need to take a test no more than 72 hours before returning to the UK, and then a further two tests after you return (on day 2 and day 8), at a cost of GBP210 per person. 

When will holidays be allowed to resume?

That is the big question. The UK has said holidays will not be able to restart until at least May 17, but this date is subject to review.

What we do know is that a traffic light system will replace the ban on foreign travel. Quarantine for returning Britons will only be dropped for countries on the green list although they will still have to pay for pre-departure and post-arrival tests. Any travellers from amber-rated countries where there is a medium risk including from variants will be required to have a pre-departure test, then quarantine on arrival for up to ten days. Those returning from red countries could find themselves forking out GBP1,750 for a long stay at a Government-approved hotel.  France will allow travel to and from the UK for any reason from. 

Travel Traffic Lights

Will vaccine passports open up travel?

It is becoming increasingly clear that vaccine passports, or, at the very least, some form of inoculation certification, will soon be a reality.

EU leaders have given the green light to the concept, as have British authorities. 

Will testing requirements remain?

It seems likely that testing will remain a requirement as part of the new traffic light system.

What are Covid restrictions like in France?

France has been in lockdown again due to a third wave of the pandemic. The Foreign Office explains: “A national curfew is in place from 7pm to 6am. Exemptions from the curfew are very limited and only apply for those with medical needs, caring responsibilities or working in roles which cannot be done from home.

Attestations (or self-certificates) to leave the house during curfew hours are available on the French Interior Ministry website and through the ‘Tous anti-Covid’ digital app. You should check the French government’s COVID 19 pages (in French) for more information. “From 3 April, the whole of mainland France is subject to additional restrictions in response to a rise in cases.

Non-essential shops are closed. Exercise is permitted within a 10km radius. From 5 April, travel to other regions is banned.”

Full information about restrictions in France can be found here.

How long will the restrictions last?

It has been announced that France will ease its restrictions next month as the prime minister declared its “third wave” over, as warmer weather arrives, pushing down infections, and more people are vaccinated. 

Copy of How many people have been vaccinated in France?

Am I still covered by travel insurance?

If you need to travel to France there are a small number of providers willing to offer cover against Foreign Office advice.

Are flights to France operating?

A number of airlines are still operating limited flights to France.

Ryanair, easyJet, British Airways and Vueling are among the airlines with flights running this week. 

Is the Channel Tunnel still open?

Yes, Eurotunnel is still running.

Is Eurostar running?

Eurostar has operated a service between London St Pancras and Paris Gare du Nord throughout the pandemic.

Check with the rail provider for details. Passengers are required to wear face masks.